The neighborhood around Arrow Point is shooting from pastoral to pricey.
John Gozzer, 83, remembers when the only way to Coeur d’Alene from his hilltop farm was to pay 35 cents for a boat ride across the lake.
Now, he drives his 1955 turquoise Oldsmobile along the curvy state Highway 97 “snake trail” to Coeur d’Alene, annoying those drivers who are in a hurry.
“I’m kind of a slowpoke,” he admits.
Chances are, the “snake trail” soon will have even more impatient travelers.
Construction of the 183-acre Arrow Point Resort golf course could start this summer if Kootenai County commissioners give their approval.
When built, the golf course will be Gozzer’s closest neighbor, offering a stark contrast between the old ways and the new.
Gozzer still heats his home and fixes his meals with an antique wood-fired cookstove.
Meanwhile, developer Roger Stewart isn’t skimping on what could be both a major tourist attraction and a means of selling more condominiums in the lakeside resort.
He promises sweeping views of the lake, natural ponds, five tee boxes at each hole, hiking and ski trails, and a boat shuttle service for those golfers who don’t care to make the 25-minute drive to the course.
“We have unbelievable views,” Stewart gushed.
He also hinted that the designer of the course will be one of the nation’s best.
He’s as giddy as lake resident Jack Finney probably was when, as a 12-year-old in 1962, he shot his first deer in those woods.
That was on Gozzer’s property.
“I’m not sure how they’ll get people out there,” Finney mused about the golf course. “I’m not into golfing, so I don’t know how bad people want to golf.”
Pretty bad, apparently.
About a year ago, Finney helped his 13-year-old son Luke purchase 10 acres from Gozzer. The young entrepreneur turned around and recently sold it to Arrow Point Development Co., for twice what he paid for it.
The Stewart family, which owns Arrow Point Development, knows golfers are hungry for more opportunities to golf.
There’s enough demand, they believe, that golfers will be willing to spend a little extra or drive a half hour more to use their golf course.
More than half of the users will be residents of the condominium units.
“It will be fairly pricey for this area,” Stewart admitted. “However, this area is very competitive with other destination resorts … It’s a bargain here.”
While Finney and Gozzer question whether the golf course will be successful, golf pros in the area said the region can support another golf course.
“There are some months when there is no room,” said Dave Lowe of the Coeur d’Alene Public Golf Club. “Tourists will come here, play at the Coeur d’Alene Resort one day, then they have a smorgasbord of other golf courses to play.”
Tony Cuchessi, Highlands Golf and Country Club pro, agreed.
“There is a big demand,” he said. “I think it will grow, and down the line the dilemma for getting a tee time will be pretty serious.”
Arrow Point neighbor Ella Fountain has no objections to the golf course, and might be one of its future customers.
“I love to golf,” she said. “It would be nice if it were open to the public.”
Her only concern is that the developer doesn’t remove too many trees from the hillside.
Another neighbor expressed concern about fertilizer from the golf course affecting water quality, and the county has requested that all runoff from the course be treated.
Stewart’s plans include an elaborate system of ponds, filters and drainages to treat the runoff. In addition, wastewater from the resort will be treated and sprayed on the golf course for irrigation.
State environmental specialist Gary Gaffney said the plans sound feasible, and the state will require that certain treatment standards are met.
“The aesthetics of it would drive them to do it right more than anything,” Gaffney said.
Another incentive is that the resort’s own drinking water wells are on the same property.
The state Department of Fish and Game expressed concerns about the loss of wildlife habitat.
In response, Stewart hired a retired Fish and Game official as a consultant to help incorporate wildlife habitat into the golf course design.
Neighbors say the area is full of white-tail deer.
But Gozzer said the herds are nothing like they used to be, back when the rural neighborhood was occupied by small farmers like himself - not wealthy summer residents who now pepper the shoreline.
“They’ve pushed them and pushed them and pushed them until there’s no place to go,” Gozzer said.
“I don’t care any more,” he added. “I’ve killed my share.”
The golf course plan is poised for county approval within the next few weeks. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
The Stewarts also are looking into buying more land around the course for townhouses and homes, mimicking the 1930s “Great Lakes Lodge” architectural style of the lakeshore condominiums.
If all goes as planned, the golf course could open in spring of 1998.
Golf nuts who want to check out the new fairways would do well to follow the example of Gozzer’s slow-moving Oldsmobile on Highway 97.
“I know a couple of Californians who tried to straighten out a couple of those curves. They’re not here any more,” the grizzled Gozzer said with a smile, thrusting a thumb skyward.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color) Map of site of proposed golf course
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